Climate of Change: Global Grassroots Environmental Success Stories
In Climate of Change, director Brian Hill tells the story of how ordinary people from around the world are taking action steps to save the environment. I caught up with Brian at a press roundtable held during the Tribeca Film Festival. Following are some of his reflections about this project.
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Given this film was produced by the same crew that brought us An Inconvenient Truth, how do you compare this documentary to your film?
I thought An Inconvenient Truth was great. But we don't need another film like that. I didn't consciously think this could be the companion follow-up piece to An Inconvenient Truth by presenting some solutions to the problems raised in this film. One of the guiding principles for me when making this film was that it shouldn't be part of what I call the apocalyptic tendency that says the earth is going to crash and burn, the seas are rising. Films like that tend to scare people to death and they're frozen like rabbits. They feel the problems are so huge they can't do anything about them. I thought there are people who are taking steps in their own lives and it would be good to have a film about them to show how you can make a difference just by changing your own behavior.
How did you choose the people you profiled in the film?
It was very difficult. I had a team of researchers -- we did Internet research, we spoke to environmental groups, NGOs, charities, as many people as we could find. Not every trip I made was successful. In order to maintain people's interest and to show the variety of things that are happening, you had to have very different elements in the film. You've got the activism of the people protesting logging in West Virginia and then people cooking rice with solar cookers.
A major theme present throughout this film is how we can learn to live off the land.
I wouldn't for a moment suggest that it's good to live in a slum. But one of the reasons I had the section in Mumbai was to witness that level of recycling where they were always making something out of nothing. Then I also thought when I want to Papua New Guinea that those people really do live off the land. The forest provides them with their food, housing, mode of transport. We can't all live like that of course. But I think it's good to meet people who have very little impact on the planet and see how they live.
How do you see film as a tool for social justice change?
It is really important that documentary and narrative films can be seen as a tool for social justice, education, and creative thinking. There's a history of that and I hope it continues. But I'd just add that nobody wants to be preached to in a film. You can suggest things and discuss ideas in films but in the end, people want to be entertained.